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Newton's Noodles, Fast-Casual Noodle Concept by the Owners of Newton's Table at 20th and L Street Downtown - Closed


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Chef Dennis Friedman is opening a fast-casual concept called Newton's Noodles later this month.

Lots of better writing than mine:

 - the Post

 - Eater

 - PoPVille has the official presser

 - WBJ has the business concept

After making private sacrifices that I shall not reveal*, I managed to get an invite to the soft opening. I never get to feel fancy, so this is BIG for me. This is their press event, and Chef said pictures and cameras are no big deal. (Nobody will notice me and my camera in the corner.)

Cheers!

* - mostly, we eat at Newton's Table a lot. We might have made doe-eyed sad faces.

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Looking forward to hearing the details! I really like Newton's Table, and Newton's Noodles is right around the corner from my office, so I'm really rooting for it.

Root away--this little corner of downtown is becoming saturated with supposed "healthy" dining places. Nature's Table is one street over on 19th, as is Chop'd, Sweetgreen on L St. and Protein Bar a block up on 19th.  Notice I didn't mention Energy Kitchen. Friday was their last day of business. :( People would line out the door for Sweetgreen and think Energy Kitchen was just an extension of it, instead of an entirely different store and concept. 20th doesn't tend to get the same foot traffic as 19th so if they are as good as you say I hope they do well...

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When is the soft opening? I walked by today and saw lights, but it still didn't appear to be that close to opening.

"Soft opening" may not be the proper term. There's a private event tomorrow evening and I believe the food will be passed. There's some overlap from Newton's Table appetizer menu - duck spring rolls, crispy beef wontons. He has two preps of tuna - my favorite is a Nori tuna with a wasabi soy ginger sauce. But there's flash fried Ahi tuna bites, which are probably better for a lunch crowd.

It will be interesting to see the workflow when they get launched. I suspect that the flipside to a smooth operational flow is that the design is a bear; you'd find every wart during line stress testing.

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 - WBJ has the business concept

And you definitely know it's a "concept" when it has a "Locations" tab up on the website before the first branch even opens.

(I've always thought this is a questionable business strategy (remember, this is coming from a cynical grump-o-la who thinks the media often gets played), but at least it's honest, and I for one appreciate the honesty. I also suspect the number of Quick Serve restaurants who *don't* plan on having multiple locations are few and far between.)

Quick Serve is this generation's Fast Food, and boy do I think it's a huge improvement - I'll take sous-vide over a pre-cooked egg pulled out of a drawer any day of the week. I actually had some medium-rare beef earlier this week at a Chipotle, fresh off the flattop (albeit with a brief layover in a plastic tub).

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And you definitely know it's a "concept" when it has a "Locations" tab up on the website before the first branch even opens.

(I've always thought this is a questionable business strategy (remember, this is coming from a cynical grump-o-la who thinks the media often gets played), but at least it's honest, and I for one appreciate the honesty. I also suspect the number of Quick Serve restaurants who *don't* plan on having multiple locations are few and far between.)

Quick Serve is this generation's Fast Food, and boy do I think it's a huge improvement - I'll take sous-vide over a pre-cooked egg pulled out of a drawer any day of the week. I actually had some medium-rare beef earlier this week at a Chipotle, fresh off the flattop (albeit with a brief layover in a plastic tub).

Chef Dennis has never hid his intent with Newton's Noodles - he projects it as a reproducible high-quality product. The line wasn't operational, so there really wasn't much to learn yesterday. But we did get to see the space.

If only there were some indicator, or perhaps my wife, as to the restaurant's location. Punch list.

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Nice big space. Almost as if Chipotle were building an Asian con--DO NOT GO THERE.

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First, you stand in line and contemplate the choices one makes in life.

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Not yet witnessing the awesome power of this Fully Operational Battle Station.

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Still more choices in life to be made. (It's a little washed out, but that's a Maine Root fountain.)

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Punch list. Everybody's got one. Item 5 is 'fix the sign out front.'  :-)

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The product, because restaurant. Soy 'fuzu' left, coconut-curry on right.

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Notes on the food: I used to think the soy fuzu was too salty, but it's been tamed. It reminds me of the kitchen sink fÄ›nsÄ« dishes my mom used to make, and that's a very happy place. I like the creamy feel of the coco dish. It will be interesting how these play out when people get to start picking their own combinations.

As to the "chork": I'm not a fan. (Sorry, Chef.) I fully believe it's just me: as the owner of stubby, fat (yet still dexterous) hands, I have an inordinately hard time using non-wood or bamboo chopsticks. Plastic, metal, lacquer, too slippery. If you break these apart correctly, you then have slippery plastic chopsticks.

If you break them apart incorrectly like I did last night, the fork head can go flying off and nearly tag a guest. (Whoops.) Using it as a fork is fine, but seems like a long way to go, and using them as "cheater" chopsticks, well ... I get visions of legions of ancestors facepalming, as if that were a thing in the old country.

As to "fuzu", Chef says it's a made-up word, and didn't know about fÄ›nsÄ«. Or else he was thinking of fuzhou noodles, but that's a totally different style of dish. Just go with the t-shirt.

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Nice time last night, Chef, thanks for having us!

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I was there last night as well.  I really liked the coco-curry noodles which are (straight from the website) rice noodles with chicken, shrimp, scallops, eggs, bean sprouts, snow peas, onions, carrots, crispy shallots, peanuts, cilantro and a coconut curry sauce.  very tasty.

I actually liked the chork- clever and I thought easy to use.

Not such a fan of the tuna bites but that's because they were overcooked.  hopefully they'll get this resolved in the future.  The picture on the website shows the fish nice and rare, which would make all the difference.

I like this concept and hope that one of the future locations is in Rockville.

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Chef Dennis has never hid his intent with Newton's Noodles - he projects it as a reproducible high-quality product. The line wasn't operational, so there really wasn't much to learn yesterday. But we did get to see the space.

I heard from Newton's Noodles (I assume this was Dennis writing, but I guess I can't be entirely sure - whomever it was, congratulations on the birth of your daughter!)

"Once the entire staff is fully trained and up to speed, the kitchen will function like a well oiled machine."

And, congratulations on the plans to open in College Park near University of Maryland (where the property is already secured), and good luck with the lease negotiations in Virginia. Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a DMV noodle chain!

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I walked in there yesterday (Monday) during lunch time and the lady told me that they were shooting to open on Thursday (at the earliest).

Interesting. When I walked by, two people walked in before me and they were told Wednesday. Wonder what pushed it further out in the span of, what, an hour?

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Interesting. When I walked by, two people walked in before me and they were told Wednesday. Wonder what pushed it further out in the span of, what, an hour?

We had lunch at the Mothership (Bethesda) today and the GM (Robert, as sweet a fellow as you'd hope to meet) told us Thursday.

In other news, the conversion of Newton's Table to a table-service version of Newton's Noodles seemed to go fine. Our order-to-table time came in at 12 minutes, which I found perfectly acceptable. I could personally use a little more heat in the "three alarm" version of the dish, but I'm sure that's just me.

We wanted to see how the line would react, so we did the pick-your-own fuzu; they both were delicious and delivered quickly. Good stuff.

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We had lunch at the Mothership (Bethesda) today and the GM (Robert, as sweet a fellow as you'd hope to meet) told us Thursday.

In other news, the conversion of Newton's Table to a table-service version of Newton's Noodles seemed to go fine. Our order-to-table time came in at 12 minutes, which I found perfectly acceptable. I could personally use a little more heat in the "three alarm" version of the dish, but I'm sure that's just me.

We wanted to see how the line would react, so we did the pick-your-own fuzu; they both were delicious and delivered quickly. Good stuff.

Re: the second paragraph - will Newton's Table keep its existence, or is it going to be a Newton's Noodles?

This is a fundamental question in terms of thread maintenance.

I know I'm the only person in the entire, whole-wide world who cares, but I really care a whole, wide world.

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Worth the wait, IMO. $8 for a box of noodles, that will feed me for lunch AND dinner. The problem is stopping at half since it tastes so good! And I had no problems with the chork. They show in a picture up front where to hold it to snap into chopsticks and it worked just fine for me. There is a bit of texture and they are not completely round so I find them very easy to use.

No signs outside or on the front door indicating they are open, yet a crowd nonetheless. I got there early enough to not have to stand in line for too long, but the line to the door when I left may have been enough to turn me away if I needed to get back to the office.

I rarely get to eat ethnic foods due to so many allergies, but the "make your own" lends itself to being a big boon for me. I had checked with Chef Dennis previously about the sauces and found out that I can eat the coco-curry sauce. Now he may have told me that he would be doing things differently on opening day, but there have been so many delays I forgot. And had I remembered I would have waited to try the place out. But when I had already made it through the line and found out there was garlic in the sauce, he wouldn't hear of turning me away and offered to mix me up a special sauce.  Wow. I would have had them make it up normally and given it to my husband to eat. I certainly did not expect him to take away from his many concerns to do a special sauce, so first, many thanks to Chef Dennis for taking time out to do that. That is beyond belief for a busy first day. And second, I'm a fan! Tasted just like I remember noodle dishes tasted like even with no garlic and no soy. He makes his own hot sauce without garlic so that was a bonus in the flavor department. Since I can't compare the flavors to anything anyone else would eat it doesn't make sense for me to even try.

I can't wait to try out some other combos and apps when the busy opening dies down.

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Say hello next time -- I must have been right next to you in line.  My experience was very different than yours, so maybe next time I need to request Chef Dennis' "special sauce" too.  ;)

My "Original Fuzu" ($9) was fine: perhaps a little fresher than the generic stir-fried noodles you might encounter in a mall food court, but still mostly reminiscent of them.  It reminded me of a bland pad thai without peanuts (which are available as a topping if you create your own combination).  I also didn't care for the "Mexicane" diet cola ($2), but there was nothing wrong with it, it's just not a particularly good diet cola.  As for the chork, it's not that great as a fork and utterly useless as conjoined chopsticks, but was fine as traditional chopsticks once broken apart.  I still would have preferred some disposable wooden chopsticks or a real plastic fork, but I guess the chork is the gimmick that's supposed to make Newton's Noodles memorable.  The noodles I had weren't, though perhaps they'll improve after the place matures.  It was slammed from the outset and the staff was clearly unprepared for it.  In addition to being generally slow, the person that took my order initially forgot that my dish -- supposedly their "signature" -- was supposed to have an egg until I asked.  Then they lost my order for about half an hour, which the man who appeared to be the manager couldn't have cared less about.  My food was still hot when I finally got it, so I didn't make an issue of it, but the dish may have suffered some from sitting.  Anyway, I might try Newton's Noodles again once it has a chance to settle in, but I'm not sure I'd send anyone there now.

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Say hello next time -- I must have been right next to you in line.  My experience was very different than yours, so maybe next time I need to request Chef Dennis' "special sauce" too.  ;)

My "Original Fuzu" ($9) was fine: perhaps a little fresher than the generic stir-fried noodles you might encounter in a mall food court, but still mostly reminiscent of them.  It reminded me of a bland pad thai without peanuts (which are available as a topping if you create your own combination).  I also didn't care for the "Mexicane" diet cola ($2), but there was nothing wrong with it, it's just not a particularly good diet cola.  As for the chork, it's not that great as a fork and utterly useless as conjoined chopsticks, but was fine as traditional chopsticks once broken apart.  I still would have preferred some disposable wooden chopsticks or a real plastic fork, but I guess the chork is the gimmick that's supposed to make Newton's Noodles memorable.  The noodles I had weren't, though perhaps they'll improve after the place matures.  It was slammed from the outset and the staff was clearly unprepared for it.  In addition to being generally slow, the person that took my order initially forgot that my dish -- supposedly their "signature" -- was supposed to have an egg until I asked.  Then they lost my order for about half an hour, which the man who appeared to be the manager couldn't have cared less about.  My food was still hot when I finally got it, so I didn't make an issue of it, but the dish may have suffered some from sitting.  Anyway, I might try Newton's Noodles again once it has a chance to settle in, but I'm not sure I'd send anyone there now.

Ha! :) Stick by me next time! We do seem to circulate in the same 'hood.

If the original Fuzu is bland, you may be able to ask for a different spice level. I'm not certain if that is just for the build your own feature or not...but if it is, then I would recommend doing the build your own. I can imagine without at least a spice level of "one" it would be quite bland as the "one" I had was barely spicy at all. Next time I will definitely try the "two" People who can tolerate spicy, I wouldn't hesitate to order the max. I tried the rice noodle--not sure how the dish would be with soba but it just doesn't appeal to me. At least not today...

While I haven't had Mall noodle dishes in a few years, this did not remind me of them at all. Yes, fresher, but also not at all oily, overly sweet/salty with too much sauce. Who knows if I'll feel the same way next time I try it, but I do think it best to give them some time to work out the kinks. The Chef did say he was doing things differently by having a batch of sauce pre-made with the garlic in it, so worth it in my mind to wait until things calm down.

Oh and that soda--if you had asked me I coulda warned ya. ^_^ I'm not a fan of that brand of sodas and the diet one is pretty lame. I would go as far to say that I find it offensive. Chop't or Taylor I think have the same machine and I only had to try it once...

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No signs outside or on the front door indicating they are open, yet a crowd nonetheless. I got there early enough to not have to stand in line for too long, but the line to the door when I left may have been enough to turn me away if I needed to get back to the office.

I can't wait to try out some other combos and apps when the busy opening dies down.

They've played the opening PR game really well (if that sounds critical, it's not meant to be; just an observation).

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It's much easier to write about a place that you really love or hate, these "kinda, sorta, somewhat" reviews are much harder.

I've been there a handul of times now, and first the good news...the ordering/service has been streamlined and refined. It's now a reasonable amount of time from when you walk into the door until you get you food.

Beyond that, it's really hit or miss, with more in the miss column.

The best bowl I've put together were the soba noodles with the soy based sauce, egg, shrimp, scallop, sprouts, pea pod, onion, and fried shallot. Make sure you get it at maximum spiciness (3) or the sweet of the sauce overwhelms it. Nothing wrong with the rice nodles either, but I likde the texture of the soba better.

The cocunut curry sauce was dissapointing...barely registers any flavor. The chicken and beef are beyond bland and only add texture.

It's easier to order the pre-fab Fuzu instead of make your own, but they don't allow any substitutions/changes. I understand that in general, but I would think "no clilantro sprinkled on top" or "extra spicy" should be doable. No bid deal to make your own instead.

The side dishes I've had...beef wontons, kapow chicken, and spring rolls...were forgettable. They all could have used more flavor.

So where does that leave me? It's a fun concept, and I'm sure everyone will find something to appeal to them...it just may take a little more trial and error than usual.

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Went there for lunch today.  I had the Original Fuzu (small entrée) and Chicken Kapow (appetizer).  The total cost was $15+ with tax, which I think was a fair value for the amount of food that I got.  I also appreciate the freshness of the food and the fact that it wasn't heavy/greasy.  Other than that, not much else good to say about it though.  It was fine, but as many have said, lacked flavor, which seems almost impossible with all the ingredients they have in that bowl.

My work at this client ends next week, so I likely wouldn't have been back anyway since I am not in that part of town anymore.  But, if I was, I probably wouldn't be back anyway.

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A coworker ordered her own combo with scallops and hated it. She split one with me last week and really loved it. So based on previous comments, it seems the Original is not the way to go. I once again would recommend making one's own from the selection of ingredients and upping the spice level. I don't like real spicy and I always order it level 2. I also add extra veggies and they never seem to want to charge me for them. And I usually get chicken and shrimp, though I tried chicken and beef once and did like that as well.

Two thoughts strike me: one, that there really isn't a place in this neck of the woods to get this type of dish. There are a few hot/cold food buffets, but I think those may be more along the lines of what one would find at a shopping mall. So no, not  "destination" dining but for workerbees nearby a good option for something different for lunch. Two, maybe y'all need to order it without the garlic added like I do...the garlic must be masking the other flavors of the ingredients. I did get the fried shallot topping once and thought it totally overwhelmed the flavors of the dish.

(Ha! Finally a benefit to my garlic allergy :lol:)

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